By Jeremiah Thermidor
Once again, the Jets are running their mouths when they should be completely focused on defeating a well-rested Dolphins team, which they narrowly beat in their first matchup on September 23.This week, head coach Rex Ryan requested an apology from Reggie Bush for earlier comments the star running back made pointing out the irony in Darrelle Revis’ season-ending injury, since he felt the Jets intended to take him out in their first matchup. Also, Jets backup linebacker Aaron Maybin and safety LaRon Landry refueled the hubbub by indicating Bush is yet again their main target in this weekend’s contest, as he was when he was knocked out of their Week 3 showdown with a knee injury. All the Jets have done by yapping about putting a hurting on Bush has provided the Dolphins with more bulletin board material ahead of Sunday’s game.
The Dolphins are coming off a bye-week since their last contest which was a 17-14 victory over the Rams on October 14. They’ve climbed up to .500 after a 1-3 start and are now in second place in the AFC East, which makes getting a divisional win over a rival that already beat them once this season all the more important. The Jets, meanwhile, are looking to bounce back after suffering a 29-26 overtime loss to the first-place Patriots last Sunday. The game ended when the Patriots recovered a Mark Sanchez fumble to seal the deal.
While the Jets’ defense is focused on making life miserable for Bush, Miami’s defense will be looking to do the same to Sanchez, who has turned the ball over nine times this season, including six in the last four games. Still, the Dolphins aren’t underestimating the fourth-year QB, who has the Jets in the playoff picture, despite competing without two of his team’s best players in Revis and wide receiver Santonio Holmes. “I think he’s playing well. He’s a productive guy,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said on Wednesday regarding Sanchez. “We think his awareness in the pocket is excellent.” “We think he’s distributing the ball very well.”
Jets tight end Dustin Keller was one of the players Sanchez distributed the ball to a lot in Week 7, giving life to a Jets offense which is lacking big-play receivers. Keller caught all of the seven passes thrown his way, finishing the game with 93 yards and a touchdown score. “He’s a threat, he’s a weapon and they do a nice job with him,” Philbin said. “He’s got versatility.” A fact which favors the Dolphins as far is Keller is concerned is that Miami hasn’t given up a touchdown to a tight end all season. “I wasn’t aware of that,” said Philbin when told about the stat. “I think we have played relatively good football in the red zone defensively, and my gut would tell me that if you charted tight end production, that’s where you are going to see most of it.”
Miami defense will certainly continue to be problematic for teams looking to run the ball, and the Jets are no exception. The Dolphins are still near the top, ranking 3rd in defending the run as they’ve limited opponents to an average of 78.2 rushing yards per game. The Jets, though, have averaged 110.4 rushing yards per game, so, they could break through and have a big day on the ground if Miami isn’t careful. Running back Shonn Greene is, of course, New York’s workhorse. But they have also gotten additional help from Joe McKnight and a familiar face to Dolphins fans in fullback Lex Hilliard. Hilliard played in Miami for four years before being picked up by the Jets in the off-season. Hilliard has done a great job for the Gang Green nation, most noticeably in last Sunday’s game in which he carried the ball three times for 14 yards, forced a fumble during a kickoff return and had several crucial blocks.
The New York Jets will play host to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern.
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Jeremiah Thermidor is a freelance writer covering all things Miami Dolphins. His work can be found on Examiner.com.